4th October 2012
GRAND PRIX de l'A.C.F - Reims - Gueux
It may be a battle between Alfa Romeo drivers Farina and Fangio but at Reims it was the third driver Luigi Fagioli who found himself in the lead and although he expected to be given the signal to slow down, it never came and the 52 year-old Abruzzi Robber won his first Championship race.
A very large entry of 27 cars arrived at Reims and being France we had nine French cars on the entry list. The three Gordinis came along - optimistic as always yet totally outclassed as ever. The six Talbots were the five French cars plus Claes' yellow one. Not a single British car took part this time although at least the Thinwall Ferrari did add a small amount of green to the red and blue, (and yellow).
The four Alfa Romeos were driven by their regular pilotes but Ferrari brought a car for Gonzales who always goes well when he drives a 375. Franco Rol had the red OSCA and then there were no less than eight Maseratis completing the list. Amongst these were the two Maserati-Milanos with Bonetto and the young Argentine Marimon as drivers.
Raised eyebrows were the order of the day at the end of the third practice session because of the three cars on the front row of the grid, only one was an Alfa Romeo.
The good Doctor Farina had done his usual fine job in putting his car on pole position but he had the Ferraris of Gonzales and Ascari for company. Fangio had been fastest in the first two sessions but was unable to improve in the last and slipped to fourth, sharing row 2 with Taruffi's Ferrari. The other two Alfa Romeos were on row three with Bira in the fastest of the Maseratis. Interestingly, Fagioli's time was from the first session. He was unable to match it in the other two.
Lower down the grid Rosier was the quickest of the Talbots while Villoresi was surprisingly far back in 11th with the 4th of the Ferraris. The middle of the grid saw a solid bank of red Maseratis. Rol had the OSCA going quite nicely but it goes without saying that the final three places on the grid were occupied by the Gordinis, the fastest of which, Trintignant, was 22 seconds slower than Farina's pole time although only a fraction behind Parnell's Maserati which was not going at all well.
Here is the full grid order the 77 lap race:
|1.||N. FARINA||ALFA ROMEO 158|
|2.||F. GONZALES||FERRARI 375|
|3.||A. ASCARI||FERRARI 375|
|4.||J. FANGIO||ALFA ROMEO 158|
|5.||P. TARUFFI||FERRARI 375|
|6.||C. SANESI||ALFA ROMEO 158|
|7.||L. FAGIOLI||ALFA ROMEO 158|
|8.||B. BIRA||MASERATI 4.CLT|
|9.||L. ROSIER||TALBOT LAGO T.26C|
|10.||P. WHITEHEAD||FERRARI 375|
|11.||L. VILLORESI||THINWALL FERRARI 375|
|12.||H. SCHELL||MASERATI 4.CLT|
|13.||L. CHIRON||MASERATI 4.CLT|
|14.||F. BONETTO||MASERATI MILANO 4.CLT|
|15.||E. de GRAFFENRIED||MASERATI 4.CLT|
|16.||P. LEVEGH||TALBOT LAGO T.26C|
|17.||R. SOMMER||TALBOT LAGO T.26C|
|19.||O. MARIMON||MASERATI MILANO 4.CLT|
|20.||P. ETANCELIN||TALBOT LAGO T.26C|
|21.||Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS||TALBOT LAGO T.26C|
|22.||J. CLAES||TALBOT LAGO T.26C|
|23.||D. HAMPSHIRE||MASERATI 4.CLT|
|24.||R. PARNELL||MASERATI 4.CLT|
|25.||M. TRINTIGNANT||GORDINI 15|
|26.||R. MANZON||GORDINI 15|
|27.||A. SIMON||GORDINI 15|
Happily for Luigi Fagioli there seem to be no team orders at Alfa Romeo. Although his somewhat more illustrious team-matea Farina and Fangio are the ones in contention for the World Championship, the fact that on the day Fagioli was the fastest of the trio meant that he was not forced to concede places to the other two and despite being only 7th fastest in practice Luigi quickly moved up to third then second and passed Fangio to take the lead on lap 16, thereafter running just fast enough to keep Fangio at a safe distance, eventually winning by 9 seconds. Farina ran Fangio quite close in the battle for second but Nino fell away towards the end and realising he was safe in third, with fourth-place Gonzales being lapped, he cruised around the final lap, eventually trundling in two and a half minutes behind Fangio.
Gonzales kep Sanesi at bay, thus preventing an Alfa clean sweep but again, it might have been a different sory had Ascari (third at the time) not crashed on lap 31. Indeed, Gonzales was the only Ferrari to finish the race. Taruffi departed the race around the same time as Ascari but Villoresi made it to lap 71 before he too crashed out. The best of the rest on this occasion was Rosier who drove a fine race into 6th place just one lap behind the winner and on the same lap as Gonzales and Sanesi.
Schell and Marimon got their Maseratis to the finish, the young Argentine doing a fine job after his Maserati-Milano team-mate Bonetto crashed out on lap 1 at one of the bends in the village of Gueux. Etancelin and Levegh also made it to the end while Claes, Sommer and Giraud-Cabantous all retired their Talbots. The Thinwall Ferrari in the hands of Peter Whitehead was up to 9th by lap 22 but retired shortly afterwards Magneto issues.
Not a fantastically exciting French Grand Prix but the burly Pampas Bull kept things alive with his relentless pursuit of the rockets from Turin.
Here is the full result of the 36 lap race:
|1.||L. FAGIOLI||ALFA ROMEO 158|
|2.||J. FANGIO||ALFA ROMEO 158|
|3.||G. FARINA||ALFA ROMEO 158|
|4.||F. GONZALES||FERRARI 375|
|5.||C. SANESI||ALFA ROMEO 158|
|6.||L. ROSIER||TALBOT LAGO T.26C|
|7.||H. SCHELL||MASERATI 4.CLT|
|8.||P. ETANCELIN||TALBOT LAGO T.26C|
|9.||O. MARIMON||MASERATI MILANO 4.CLT|
|10.||P. LEVEGH||TALBOT LAGO T.26C|
|Fastest lap: J. FANGIOI, ALFA ROMEO 158, on lap 8, 2.26'82|
|L. VILLORESI||THINWALL FERRARI 375|
|L. CHIRON||MASERATI 4.CLT|
|J. CLAES||TALBOT LAGO T.26C|
|R. MANZON||GORDINI 15|
|P. TARUFFI||FERRARI 375|
|A. ASCARI||FERRARI 375|
|A. SIMON||GORDINI 15|
|P. WHITEHEAD||FERRARI 375|
|D. HAMPSHIRE||MASERATI 4.CLT|
|M. TRINTIGNANT||GORDINI 15|
|Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS||TALBOT LAGO T.26C|
|H. SCHELL||MASERATI 4.CLT|
|R. PARNELL||MASERATI 4.CLT|
|E. de GRAFFENRIED||MASERATI 4.CLT|
|R. SOMMER||TALBOT LAGO T.26C|
|F. BONETTO||MASERATI MILANO 4.CLT|
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